Rescheduled 2021 Tallahassee Beer Festival set for Sunday
When the Tallahassee Beer Festival was postponed in the middle of August because of skyrocketing coronavirus cases in the area, the move was hailed almost universally as "the right thing to do."
Now, more than 2 1/2 months later — with new cases in a steep decline — going forward with the 3rd annual event at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 7, at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center is being met with the same type of reaction.
And the Tallahassee Beer Festival — North Florida's biggest craft beer event of every calendar year since 2019 — is a big part of that return to normalcy.
On Sunday, a record number of attendees are expected to attend the festival, which serves as an annual fundraiser for the United Partners For Human Services — an umbrella organization with over 180 human service agencies it serves. The event was last held in late January 2020 — about 6 weeks before the onset of the pandemic —and distributed just over $36,000 among 30-plus nonprofits.
Extra tickets were snapped up
Festival founder and organizer Ben Graybar said as of this week, over 2,000 tickets had been sold between General Admission and VIPs. Naturally, when the event was postponed in August, some opted for a refund — and anyone who didn't feel comfortable attending, or the rescheduled date didn't work for them, were granted that refund.
Of course, that opened up extra tickets for anyone who may have missed out before the event sold out in late June. But those tickets were quickly snatched up.
Then Graybar made exactly 100 extra tickets available last Friday — and most of those, too, were quickly snatched up as well.
"Although all our event net proceeds go to our nonprofits and our tickets say 'no refunds,' we made the decision to allow for refunds. As a result, we turned over (refunded, then resold) almost 10% of our tickets," Graybar said.
All that spells out one thing to us: Tallahassee is, after long last, finally ready for this.
"After we found an available date, we needed to talk with all of the brewers and breweries who previously committed — plus vendors and sponsors too — because without their beer, there is no event. That has been a constantly evolving list with additions and deletions based on schedule changes. We had over 100 sponsors, brewers, vendors lined up – along with hotel reservations for 30 of them, and all of that had to be re-communicated. It was like running two events — two months apart! But now we're finally ready."
60 breweries lined up
We got a glimpse of that readiness four weeks ago when Elder Care Services held the first craft beer-centric event in North Florida in almost two years. With a small — but mighty — lineup of eight local breweries pouring, they put on their 21st Annual Oktoberfest celebration at Cascades Park.
While the event was held totally outside and attendance was capped at 500 people, it sold out easily — with a waiting list of over 100 people hoping to get in — and the feedback we heard afterward was incredibly positive.
Fast forward almost a month later, and the Tallahassee Beer Festival plans to up the beerfest-ante with over 60 breweries and home brewers, complete with a VIP area that will feature some of the best and baddest beers Graybar could get his hands on — including one he is particularly excited about.
"I think it’s important for attendees to know that ALL of the beer in the general admission space is donated by distributors, breweries and homebrewers. Without them, this event doesn’t happen, so we have to give a BIG 'Thanks' for bringing all of their wonderful fermentations to sample," Graybar said.
"In VIP, it’s different – we purchase the beer, and our event volunteers do the pouring. Often, that beer is very expensive, in limited supply or is gone very quickly. One example of this is a Sam Adams beer that is released every other year – Utopias. It costs us over $150 a bottle, and it’s 28% ABV! Why? Among the many other reasons is that it is aged in different barrels – one of them being Buffalo Trace. We'll be serving this in 2 ounce pours because it is rare, we only have four bottles and we want to make sure everyone gets to try it. So make sure if you're a VIP ticket holder, you get your sample before it's gone!"
Voting, T-shirts and Beer Mile
We, of course, will also be there handling the awards-aspect of the event. When each attendee arrives (2 p.m. for VIPs and 3 p.m. for General Admission), they will be given an official 2021 TLH Beer Fest logoed tasting glass, and inside that glass will be a voting card with three categories: Best Brewery, Best Homebrewer and Best Overall Beer.
At some point during the event, head on over to our table, fill out your card and drop it in the bucket. Voting ends at 5:30 p.m. sharp and the winners will be announced before the end of the event at 6:30 p.m. after the Tallahassee-based accounting firm of James Moore & Co. CPA certifies the results.
And for the second year in a row, the event will feature a "Beer Mile" ahead of the start. So if you're into fitness AND power-drinking, this part of the event is for you. Prior to the doors opening at 2 p.m. for the VIP hour, you can register for and compete in the Beer Mile ($25 in advance or $30 day-of). The Beer Mile registration fee includes a T-shirt and four beers.
Yes, the rumors are true — "Drink Tallahassee Beer" T-shirts and hoodies are BACK. We'll have over 150 on sale at our table Sunday in a variety of colors and sizes. Don't see your size or want a different color than the ones we're offering? We'll have a simple order form for you to fill out. Can't make the fest? Place your order at tlhbeersociety.com.
We'll just end this week by saying a final thanks to the UPHS board of directors, which Graybar previously served, for being smart, thoughtful and patient in the planning and execution of this event.
They're implementing layers of safety measures for Sunday, including utilizing all the massive space that the Civic Center event area offers, and the main arena floor, to spread everyone out. You're even allowed to bring your own cup if you'd like.
And saving the best for last, a huge shoutout to ALL the breweries pouring and the local distributors like Tri-Eagle Sales, Cone Distributing and Greater Depths Distribution that are bringing multiple brands to showcase.
As the saying goes, "It's a good time to have a good time." And that's exactly what we're going to do Sunday.
Cheers to craft beer. Cheers to a return to normalcy. And cheers to drinking beer and doing good.